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Reading Reflections Week 4… Gillmor Chapter 6 October 28, 2007

Posted by gjchatalas in Uncategorized.
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There’s great subject matter in Gillmor’s We The Media. This topic is fascinating to me, including our chapter about professional journalists utilizing citizen media. While traditional media companies have been apprehensive to embrace citizen media, they’re doing so at their own peril. Not only are they missing opportunities to engage with their audience, but also to provide better news coverage.

Among the many subjects in this chapter, the local angle resonates greatly with me. Heading forward, I think local news is going to be the information that community members desire the most. The local media will be wise to embrace the citizens’ views and willingness to be active. To some extent, media actually already do so fairly decently. The Seattle P-I “Soundoff” feature is quite good… readers respond to local news stories. The Seattle Times has some great blogs… David Postman’s on politics and Geoff Baker’s on the Mariners, in particular. Both these blogs have loyal readers who comment regularly, creating a larger conversation and relationship. Still, we’re not seeing very much citizen-generated material yet in either paper. King 5 does that a bit better on its website, but it still makes clear that the provided content has absolutely no connection to King.

I think there are great opportunities to train citizen media practitioners, and that will in-turn help create more active community members. The big question is what business and revenue opportunities will come about to motivate this. I’ve done many community newsletters, but scant advertising dollars amount to covering basic costs in a labor of love. One idea I think has considerable merit, that I want to study closely during the program, is the creation of what I’ll call a Community News Network. This would be an online center of community and local news. Community members would submit content as articles, blog entries, video posts, interviews, and more. It could be the common stop for local coverage, by the citizens who know their communities best. There are some models of this underway which I’ll look forward to studying further.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Why are established media hesitant to fully embrace citizen media and open conversation with the citizenry?
  • What inspires citizens to create content for others?
  • What sorts of citizen content is most interesting and effective?
  • What media organizations are doing an admirable job in utilizing the citizenry, and how?
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